Some pain relief medications – or “painkillers” – are safe to take when a person has a stomach ulcer. However, some pain relievers may make an ulcer worse.

Stomach ulcers are sores on the lining of a person’s stomach or duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Doctors may refer to these sores as peptic ulcers or duodenal ulcers. They can cause symptoms such as dull or burning pain.

Doctors treat stomach ulcers with medication that helps the stomach heal. They may also prescribe certain types of pain relief medication to help with a person’s symptoms. However, some pain relief medications may not be safe to take if a person has a stomach ulcer.

This article discusses pain relief medications to take or avoid with a stomach ulcer and whether this kind of medication can cause ulcers. It also examines whether medication can relieve ulcer pain and answers frequently asked questions.

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It is best for a person with a stomach ulcer to seek professional medical advice before taking medication for any kind of pain.

Acetaminophen or paracetamol (Tylenol) may be a suitable nonprescription pain relief medication for people who have or are at risk of stomach ulcers.

Tylenol does not increase a person’s risk of stomach ulcers. However, taking it regularly or in high doses may cause a person to experience potentially dangerous side effects. It is best to consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication.

Learn about the best medications for stomach ulcers.

People with stomach ulcers may need to avoid pain relief medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as:

NSAIDs can cause or worsen stomach ulcers.

However, doctors may recommend taking lower-dosage NSAIDs. They may also be able to prescribe a different form of NSAID, such as COX-2 inhibitors.

It is important for people with stomach ulcers to get professional medical advice before using NSAIDs or switching from one NSAID to another.

Learn more about NSAIDs.

Some pain relief medications can cause stomach ulcers.

NSAID use is the second most common cause of peptic ulcer disease, after cases due to infection with a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).

Some types of NSAIDs make a person’s stomach lining more susceptible to damage and developing ulcers, and taking more than one type at a time can increase the risk.

People are also more likely to develop a stomach ulcer when using NSAIDs if they take them:

  • for an extended period
  • when they also have an H. pylori infection
  • with other medications that increase their stomach ulcer risk
  • in high doses

Some medications can provide relief from stomach ulcer pain. Antacid pain relief medications neutralize a person’s stomach acid quickly. They offer immediate short-term symptom relief for a few hours.

However, antacids only temporarily relieve a person’s ulcer pain. Their pain will keep coming back until they receive treatment for the ulcer.

A doctor can also recommend other pain relief medication, such as acetaminophen, to help manage stomach ulcer pain. However, the type of pain reliever they recommend may depend on the cause of the ulcer.

Learn more about antacids.

Here are answers to some common questions about stomach ulcers and pain relief medication.

How can I get immediate relief from ulcer pain?

Antacid pain relief medication may provide immediate but short-term relief from ulcer pain. People need to seek medical advice before taking antiacid medication or other pain relievers if they have a stomach ulcer.

Does Tylenol help with stomach ulcer pain?

Tylenol is a pain relief medication that can help ease stomach acid pain. It may be safer to take than some other pain relief medication.

Is Tylenol or ibuprofen bad for ulcers?

Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs can cause or worsen stomach ulcers, so it is best to avoid these with a stomach ulcer. However, Tylenol and other acetaminophen medications may be more suitable as they do not increase a person’s risk of stomach ulcers.

What over-the-counter medication is good for stomach ulcer pain?

Antacids are over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medications that can relieve stomach ulcer pain. A person can speak with a pharmacist for advice on which OTC pain relievers may be most suitable for them.

Certain pain relief medications are safer for a person with a stomach ulcer than others. For example, a doctor may recommend acetaminophen or paracetamol (Tylenol), as this type of medication does not increase a person’s risk of stomach ulcers. Antacids may also provide short-term relief from stomach ulcer pain.

However, NSAIDs can cause or worsen stomach ulcers, so it is best for a person with a stomach ulcer to avoid these.

People with stomach ulcers need to seek professional medical advice before taking any pain relief medication. A doctor or pharmacist can advise on which medications are safest for them to take for stomach ulcer pain or any other pain.